Portable stoves make cooking outside during the winter months much easier. This would need the usage of butane, but will it freeze in the winter? And, if it does, how will it be dealt with? We investigated what happens when butane is exposed to low temperatures and described our findings below.
Butane has a freezing point of -216.4 degrees Fahrenheit (-138 degrees Celsius), which means it will not freeze in normal cold temperatures. However, butane’s performance as a fuel can be harmed by the cold. Internal pressure retains it in a liquid condition, but vaporization when connected to a burner turns it into a gas. It has a hard time vaporizing when the temperature approaches the freezing point. As a result, the liquid does not convert into gas, resulting in a waste of heat.
Butane can be used in the winter as long as the temperature does not drop below freezing. In this piece, we’ll talk about how cold the temperature has to be for butane to freeze, as well as what you can do to avoid it. What should you do to keep butane in usable condition? Continue reading to learn more about these topics.
At what temperature will butane freeze?
The freezing point of butane gas is roughly -140 degrees Celsius, but the boiling point is -2 degrees Celsius, thus your blue butane gas cylinder might not operate as well in colder weather because low temperatures make producing gas vapour difficult.
Can butane be stored in the cold?
Because butane canisters are often offered in smaller volumes, they are easier to store than propane bottles. Butane canisters can be stored together, individually packaged, or wrapped in a protective sleeve, such as plastic foam or thick cloth, due to their compact size. Federal labels affixed to butane canisters indicate safe storage parameters, such as maximum temperature and cold ranges. Butane storage temperatures should be kept between 32 and 125 degrees Fahrenheit. Butane must be stored in a cool, dry, and fireproof setting.
What happens if you freeze butane?
Butane cannot be used at temperatures below -216.4 °F (-138 °C). When the temperature around it rises above the freezing point, it stops working. Butane, on the other hand, slows down vaporization below 31.28 °F (-0.4 °Celsius), making it useless at temperatures below 32 °F.
Butane and propane are typically found in fuel canisters. Propane, unlike butane, will continue to evaporate at lower temperatures but will burn out at sub-freezing temperatures. As a result, the mixture goes closer to butane, and less gas vaporizes.
The stove or canister is powered by vaporization, with heat playing an important role. As butane is used to power the can, it will cool. In addition, in the winter, temperatures might drop to 32 degrees Fahrenheit or below freezing. Under these conditions, internal pressure lowers, preventing vaporization and preventing fuel from reaching the stove.
How do you keep butane from freezing?
My canister stove is easy to use and has been my go-to three-season alternative for a long time. However, it’s a pain in the winter, or whenever temperatures drop below freezing, because they perform poorly or not at all. Why?
It all comes down to a little chemistry and physics. A compressed mixture of butane and propane is contained in canisters. The pressure keeps the majority of the combination liquid (you can hear it sloshing around inside the canister if you shake it), but a small percentage vaporizes into a gas above the liquid. When you connect a stove to the canister and turn it on, gas rises to feed the stove burner and heat your food or water.
The pressure inside the canister must be greater than the pressure outside the canister for this to work. However, as the temperature of the canister dips below freezing, the internal pressure begins to drop, and the burner sputters and goes off.
Why? Butane, which ceases vaporizing around 31 degrees Fahrenheit, is the main problem (its boiling point). (A chemical variant of butane, isobutane, continues to vaporize at 11 degrees Fahrenheit.)
Butane makes up the majority of the fuel in canisters, accounting for 70 to 80 percent of the total; propane makes up the rest. Unlike butane, propane, on the other hand, continues to vaporize even at extremely low temperatures (down to minus-43 degrees Fahrenheit). This has some intriguing implications for performance in cold conditions.
The fact that propane burns out at a disproportionate pace in sub-freezing temperatures is one among them. As the residual mixture changes more toward butane, less and less fuel vaporizes until the pressure in the canister drops too low to keep feeding the stove. This means that a fresh new fuel canister may run for a short time in sub-freezing temperatures, but it will cease working before the canister is completely emptied.
Another aspect that impacts a canister’s cold-weather performance is the temperature. The process of vaporizationthe transition from a liquid to a gasrequires energy. The warmth (latent heat) in the fuel mixture itself provides the majority of the energy in a fuel canister, which is why a stove canister will become substantially cooler while the stove is functioning. Even if the ambient temperature is above the fuel’s boiling point, this effect can push the canister temperature down and stop the burner cold in cold conditions.
- This FAQ on fuel blends is a great place to start if you want to learn more about the science behind it all.
So, what are your options? If you plan on doing a lot of winter camping, invest in a white gas-fueled liquid fuel stove that will keep you warm even in the coldest temps. Warm up the canister stove before using it if you’re out in near-freezing temperatures using a canister stove. For a while, tuck it inside your clothing, or bring it into your sleeping bag at night. Keeping the canister above freezing while in use can also be accomplished by placing it in a shallow dish or pan with an inch or two of water.
Why does butane gas freeze?
Have you ever noticed how your canister gets chilly as your burner heats up? This is caused by a phenomena that occurs inside the canister as it transports fuel to your stove. These canisters contain highly compressed fuel. As a result, the vast majority of it is liquid, with only a little quantity remaining as gas floating above the liquid. You may shake the can and feel the petroleum splashing around inside before turning on your stove.
When you turn on the stove, a small amount of this gas escapes. As it does so, the space it previously occupied gets filled with additional. The gas must be extracted from the liquid, which necessitates the use of a lot of heat. This heat must originate someplace. When you operate your stove slowly enough, like when you’re simmering, heat from the outside air passes through the edges of your canister, and the canister does not cool down considerably. When you run your stove at maximum power, though, the heat can’t get through the canister quickly enough, so it has to come from chilling the liquid. As a result, the canister becomes cooler. In some cases, this can result in frost forming on the outside.
That’s it: the basic explanation for why your canister becomes chilly when you use your stove.
How long can butane be stored?
Depends. Sealable butane canisters, in general, do not go bad; in fact, experts agree that they can last up to ten years, perhaps even longer. Butane canisters that have been opened but have not been used for a while are still flammable and will operate in your camping stove, although the quality of the gas may diminish over time.
How do you store butane safely?
Butane cartridges are normally safe to store, but any time you’re dealing with compressed fuel in a can, you must exercise caution. This is especially true if you’re storing significant quantities of solvents. Cans can disintegrate, releasing solvents into the atmosphere.
- Canisters should be kept in a cool, dry place where the temperature does not exceed 122°F (50°C). Excessive heat can cause an explosion.
- Avoid storing canisters in low-level areas like basements and keep them in a well-ventilated space.
Sealable solvent cans can be safely stored in garages, storerooms, and large drawers, among other places. Simply ensure that the setting is indoors, cool, dry, and away from any sources of heat.
Do butane cans explode?
Butane gas canisters are a fantastic way to fuel a stove or heating equipment while camping because they are inexpensive, easy to use, and lightweight. Gas canisters can build up pressure and explode if handled or stored incorrectly.